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|REVISED & EXPANDED EDITION|
Does Your Story Beginning Set You Up For Success…or Failure?
Beginnings are agonizing to write.
So much is at stake.
If you start your story in the wrong place, if it’s boring or bogged down by exposition, audiences will abandon it right then and there. They’re not going to read further to see if your story gets better down the road.
They don’t have to.
Whether a studio executive, agent, or bookworm, they’re spoiled for choice. They can make quick judgment calls, instantly forsaking your story for one that grabs them right away.
In other words, a well-written beginning is a marketing tool. It helps you sell your story.
But...it has to do more than that. It also has to set up your plot.
It has to lay down the groundwork for your premise (i.e. its basic rules & credibility). Plus, audiences have to get to know your protagonist. They have to get to know the stakes.
Unfortunately, setting your pieces in place (especially the character stuff) tends to be slow. It doesn’t tend to grab audiences. At the same time, it doesn’t do you much good to grab audiences at the beginning of your story…only to lose them later on.
This is the marketing-plotting conundrum.
And boy is it a doozy.
Happily, this writing guide will provide you with two tried-and-true solutions:
Solution #1: The Inciting Incident
Starting your story and getting it started are two different things.
You start your story on page 1. But this page, along with the ones that follow soon thereafter, can be filled with loads of material: backstory, exposition, “info dumps,” random details.
All of this material is essential for you, the writer.
However, not all of it is (in fact, very little of it may be) essential for audiences, who’re waiting for your story to get started.
Thus, you’ve got to make an incision.
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